The Unending Love Story
Well into his sixties and seventies García Márquez continued his narrative explorations of the subject of male-female attraction and love. The result was two brief yet luminous novels that push the customary boundaries of romantic experience, plumbing hitherto unknown emotional depths and coming up with some strange surprises along the way.
García Márquez’s earlier love novels, we saw in chapter 10, all tell of romantic amours with a difference. His are not the fables of handsome-fellowmeets-and-weds-attractive-young-lady, the standard stuff of countless classic novels and formulaic films. In “Eréndira” the author openly spoofs the old fairy-tale plot of courtship and happily-ever-after. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold he explodes the expected outcome for the newlyweds, giving their postnuptial future new twists beyond imagining. And in Love in the Time of Cholera the central couple unites only when well into their seventies. In these works, the various familiar love story conventions are mercilessly parodied and subverted. And yet, in the end, the emotion of love is what is most powerful, most authentic of all.
The writer’s two latter-day novels of romance, Of Love and Other Demons (1994) and Memories of My Melancholy Whores (2004), bring with them yet another slant on the male-female story. Both of them depict an amorous entanglement that emerges between an older man and an early-adolescent girl. (They have a passing precedent in the tragic liaison between the septuagenarian Florentino and the youthful schoolgirl América Vicuña toward the end of Love in the Time of Cholera.) In this regard both of the later works inevitably suggest parallels with Nabokov’s Lolita, a book that, in 1957, set the model and the template for any such imagined alliances.
Unlike most of García Márquez’s previous major works, Of Love and Other Demons drew relatively little fanfare when it first appeared. While the initial printing of 100,000 copies sold out within weeks and the reviews were, as expected, glowing, there was precious little of the excitement that had accompanied The Autumn of the Patriarch or Love in the Time of Cholera. One possible reason was simple public fatigue. His Nobel Prize was in the past; and the attentions lavished on the author and on his various literary and political